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Music MondayOctober 19, 2014

Music Mondays: The Best of Mouse Rat (Formerly Scarecrow Boat)

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Joseph Harper falls deep into the pit of fake Parks and Recreation band, Mouse Rat. //

I always loved a good fake band. Whether it was Doug’s beloved Beets, Uncle Jesse’s unbelievably sensual contributions, Landry’s borderline unlistenable Chirstian Metal outfit, Crucifictorious, or even Drive Shaft, with their surprisingly believable take on waning Brit Pop. All great contributions to the genre. But ne’er has a fake band managed to endure as many seasons (and name changes) as Mouse Rat.

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It seems important to remember that before he got ripped to shreds and became an action hero, Chris Pratt divided his time between various part-time vocations as the vaguely antagonistic Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation.

Pratt’s role at Parks and Rec’s inception was that of a loafer. The ball and chain attached to Rashida Jones, dragging her down and acting as a plot device. As the show evolved, so too did Pratt’s role, and eventually he became one of the show’s funniest, most lovable, and indeed essential characters. The one thing that never changed was the fact that he was the lead vocalist and song writer for a band called Mouse Rat.

Band members came and went, as did various, terrible band names (Fiveskin, Just the Tip, Two Doors Down, God Hates Figs, Penis Pendulum among the many highlights). But as the seasons of Parks and Rec mounted, Andy’s funny little band cemented itself as a very charming part of the whimsical world the show created for itself.

With a gloriously derivative sound (as per the band’s official website, “The Rat takes inspiration from the greats – Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, and recent (but solid) discovery Train”), the artist formerly known as Malice in Chains have given us half a dozen or so quality cuts. Below are my top three Rat tracks.

“The Pit”

“I was in the pit. You were in the pit. We all fell into the pit.” It doesn’t get much purer than that. Inspired by a fall into a pit (apropos) and carried aloft by Chris Pratt’s soaring Kroeger-voice; “The Pit” is a classic. The titular pit led to a storyline that ran for nearly the entirety of the show’s run, and the song itself acted as a keystone to one of Parks and Rec’s most touching moments, when April (Aubrey Plaza) proved her love for Andy by temporarily joining her boyfriend’s shitty band in a live rendition.

“Sex Hair”

Show me a better Hootie and the Blowfish pastiche and I’ll show you an actual Hootie and the Blowfish song. The verse on “Sex Hair” is vibrant and catchy enough that it could probably go undercover on a Shrek soundtrack. The misguided romantic sentiment is classic Andy, and the lead guitar tone is as inoffensive as they come. Honestly, “Sex Hair” is a banger.

5000 Candles in the Wind

“What’s 5000 times better than a Candle in the Wind? I give you, 5000 Candles in the wind!”

Inspired by the death of the town’s beloved tiny horse, Li’l Sebastian, ‘5000 Candles in the Wind’ is Mouse Rat’s magnum opus. With exceptional lyrics – “Humans cannot ride a ghost” kills me every time – and a faux-sincerity so deeply moronic that it almost elicits genuine sympathy, ‘5000 Candles in the Wind’ feels like the most perfect song to play at the funeral of a fictional Shetland pony in the history of fictional Shetland ponies.

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